During the presidential campaign, neither of the two candidates made space exploration or the American space exploration NASA a primary part of their agenda, and no questions were put to them on the topic during the presidential debates.
TRUMP ANNOUNCES HIS PLANS FOR NASA: SPACE EXPLORATION AND MINING
Reporters working specifically in the field of space said that when they directed questions towards the two candidates that Hillary Clinton showed herself to be a keen supporter of NASA and was very knowledge on the topic. Donald Trump, on the other hand, was described as giving vague and perfunctory answers. However, now Trump has been declared the President-elect, he has come out with a more detailed plan for NASA’s activities for his time in office, and his agenda promises to be the most ambitious in recent decades.
Trump has expressed his desire for NASA to move from a primarily Earth-monitoring agency to one that is more dedicated to space exploration. He has said that he would like NASA to be capable of exploring the farthest reaches of the solar system by the end of the century.
“I will free NASA from the restriction of serving primarily as a logistics agency for low Earth orbit activity… Instead we will refocus its mission on space exploration.”
He has also spelled out specific plans for mining valuable minerals from the asteroid belt, visiting Europa (one of Jupiter’s moons which are believed to be a likely habitat for extra-terrestrial life) and perhaps even discovering planets close to our solar system which is home to alien life forms.
Robert Walker, a Republican congressman who sat on the Science, Space, and Technology Committee in the 1990s, is believed to have been instrumental in drawing up Trump’s plans for NASA. In public statements, he has focused more on the kind of technology the Trump administration hope that NASA will be able to create. He said;
“If you’re looking at technology that looks for the solar system, you are then likely to move toward plasma rockets, toward nuclear-powered rockets, certainly toward solar sails.”
Trump’s ambitious program for American space exploration has been compared to the goals set by President Kennedy in 1961 when he expressed a desire for the United States to overtake the Soviet Union in the space race.
“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”
If the words of Jim Bridenstine, who has been shortlisted to take over as the head of the space agency, are anything to go by then this patriotic line of thought is also prevalent in Trump’s plans for NASA.
“The United States of America is the only nation that can protect space for the free world and for responsible entities, and preserves space for generations to come, ”
“America must forever be the preeminent spacefaring nation.”